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OBA trumps itself

Marcus Jones has put his political party in an invidious position

The One Bermuda Alliance senator Marcus Jones made the unfathomable decision this week to express his support for impeached and disgraced American president Donald Trump.

It appears Mr Jones thought his message, apparently posted to a religious group on Facebook, was private. It was not.

In it, Mr Jones said: “Most of my family and friends, who are believers, dislike President Trump and cannot see God’s hand in His plan to place him in this office.

“They disregard the President’s policies that have defended religious freedom, declared Jerusalem the capital of Israel or recognised what he has done to improve your economy.

“So I am a minority supporter of the President in my community, but a staunch one.

“I believe God and the prophets and I encourage you not to leave or lose hope in what God has spoken.“

Mr Jones added in a later post: “I endorse the policies of the current president that promote defending the unborn, moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem and promoting religious freedom.”

Mr Jones did acknowledge that these were his own opinions, and not those of the OBA.

But Mr Jones made the comments from his Facebook profile, in which he identifies himself as an OBA senator.

Politicians can never fully separate their parties from their own views. It is inevitable that few politicians will agree with every position their party takes, but the accepted approach is that once a policy is settled, they accept it. There may come a time when a politician is so at odds with their party that they cannot remain in it. Then the honourable thing to do is to resign.

Resignation is also the right thing to do when a politician embarrasses their party, or puts it in an impossible position.

The Progressive Labour Party saw this happen last year when Rolfe Commissiong resigned from his candidacy and, in doing so, gave up his House of Assembly seat. Although there seems to be more to that story, Mr Commissiong could be at least credited with putting his party’s success ahead of his own interests.

Should Mr Jones do the same? That depends first on whether his comments were out of order.

Mr Jones identified certain policy areas with which he agreed, many of them on religious grounds. He is perfectly entitled to do that. But by ignoring the real damage that Mr Trump has done to the United States and democracy, most of all in inciting rioters to march on the US Capitol to disrupt the certification of his rightful successor as president, Mr Jones is guilty of blinkered vision.

Given Mr Trump’s other actions and his more than tacit encouragement of White supremacy, it defies belief that Mr Jones would attempt to separate those actions which he supports from those he surely abhors. It was not, after all, that long ago that members of his party were prevented from carrying out their legitimate duties by protesters.

in defending Mr Trump, Mr Jones has done his party enormous harm at a time when it seemed to be beginning to recover from its historic election defeat last October.

Mr Jones should do the right thing and resign, having embarrassed his colleagues and put them in an untenable position.

Since he has not done so, party leader Cole Simons should have already demanded his resignation. This would have been the right thing for the OBA. But it would also have enabled Mr Simons to put his own stamp on the party; he would have demonstrated his leadership and exercised his authority.

Instead, Mr Simons has tried to split the difference. A party statement declared that members were entitled to freedom of speech and religion, but that Mr Jones’s views did not reflect those of the OBA. The statement added that the OBA would not be commenting on the internal politics of the US or any other country.

In distancing his party from Mr Jones’s statements, but refusing to go further, Mr Simons has tried to have the best of both worlds, but he will end up satisfying no one.

Mr Jones still has time to save his party from further embarrassment by resigning. Failing that, Mr Simons should move swiftly and dismiss him.

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Published January 19, 2021 at 9:56 am (Updated January 19, 2021 at 9:56 am)

OBA trumps itself

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